Tattoo Infections linked to New Bacteria
Here's important information for people with tattoos, and people thinking about getting a tattoo. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that two people who developed a chronic skin infection after getting tattoos were both infected with a bacteria not previously linked to tattooing.
The infections involved Mycobacterium haemophilum, which usually only strikes individuals whose immune system are compromised. In this instance, however, the patients, both from Seattle, developed rashing, despite the fact that both had normal immune systems.
"Two people developed chronic skin infections after receiving tattoos at the same parlor," explained study lead author Dr. Meagan Kay of the CDC. from "The patrons were thought to have been exposed through use of tap water during rinsing and diluting of inks."
The authors point out that tattooing is not a sterile procedure. It's not regulated at the federal level and it can be risky. While inks and colorings (pigments) commonly used to apply tattoos are regulated by the FDA, the rules usually apply only when cosmetics or color additives are involved.
Myrna Armstrong, professor emeritus at the school of nursing at Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, says this investigation highlights the risks of getting a tattoo. She says people need to be aware of what they're getting into when they decide to get a tattoo.
Those who think their tattoo may be infected should see a doctor. Symptoms include increased redness, warmth, swelling, pain and a discharge.
This report is in the September issue of the CDC's journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Tattoos are no longer considered "disreputable" or "trashy." Once upon a time only soldiers and sailors had them. Today people of all ages in all professions at all economic levels are getting tattoos.